The 21st Century has birthed a generation that is enveloped in advanced technology, internet memes and awkward conversations with our smartphones. With such vast and revolutionary advancements, there's no surprise that these trends have translated onto the silver screen. Even though I don't think new always means better, but the harsh truth is that maybe we have out-grown lifting a boom box over our heads to win the girl or running away scared from monsters in the dark and scary woods.
Films like Her, Avatar and The Social Network stay faithful to the universal themes of love, loss, discovery and redemption, but are set in the context of the new media world. These 6 films are for the new generation, the technologically savvy, the lovers of the Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. However, just how well do these modern hits compare to their older counterparts?
1. Avatar (2009) vs. Pocahontas (1995)
Exploring themes of discovery, both of these movies featured a tall, handsome, white guy explore a foreign world that was unknown to the rest of mainstream society. The Disney classic was based on the legend surrounding a Native American named Pocahontas and her encounter with Englishman John Smith. The Academy-Award winning film was praised for its musical score and feature songs! (Colour of the wind is my go to karaoke song.)
On the other hand, Avatar takes on science fiction to tell the beautiful story of two worlds coming together. James Cameron really showed audiences how far special effects and CGI have come in this masterfully presented live-action blockbuster. It took the world by storm as it became the highest grossing film ever. Avatar left audiences in awe of the land, Pandora, and some devoted fans even learnt the Na'vi language. It's safe to say that Avatar has firmly planted itself into the pop culture of our modern landscape.
2. Unfriended (2015) vs. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
These two movies are both about lies and deception and basically a group of teenagers keeping secrets about what they've done in the past. I Know What You Did Last Summer is about a note-passing psycho killer, known as The Hook, who knew about the group's biggest secret. One by one, characters were getting murdered by the unknown killer. This is the film that created those cliches that have been parodied and replicated so greatly in modern horror movies.
Almost two decades later, the idea of crazy murderers hiding in your bushes, dreams, or attic has lost its touch. Horror films have become cliche after cliche with stereotypical characters. Unfriended attempts to bring a technological twist to the horror genres while still following some of the unapologetic conventions of teen thrillers. Nevertheless, instead of secret notes lying around, its a faceless stranger in a group video call on Skype that threatens the lives of the teens. Such a modern spin to an otherwise orthodox slasher gore-fest really followed the trends of our contemporary internet fears.
3. Her (2013) vs. Lost in Translation (2003)
Both movies are about a lonely man finding love in a hopeless place, both starring the beautiful and talented Scarlet Johansson. These two films are so connected that even the directors of each film were once married. These romantic dramas detail unusual relationships that help the characters involved escape the harsh reality of their world.
However, as Lost in Translations conveys a more traditional story of marriage and new relationships, Her explores marriage and divorce in a modern love story where technology plays a much bigger role. Her tells us the story of a man suffering through his divorce who strangely finds comfort in and support from an advanced operating system. As their connection grows past platonic and into a hazy place of love, the movie explores ideas of modern relationships and effects of technology on our romantic ideals.
4. Easy A (2010) vs. Mean Girls (2004)
Easy A and Mean Girls both explore ideas of bullying and the cliques of high school. A genre in a league of its own, these chick flicks take on themes of friendship and the terrors of adolescent angst in a time where everyone is desperate to be noticed, loved and acknowledge.
Mean Girls became a phenomenon back in 2004, conveying high school life as a jungle scene. It was a time where high schools rumours were all written in "The Burn Book", cliques had dress codes, and revenge comes in the form of peppermint-scented foot cream. However, for many university student's in today's day and age, books are out and the internet is so in. Emma Stone stars in Easy A as the quirky, quiet, teen that suddenly rises to popularity because of rumours about an apparently scandalous weekend. The film takes on the same themes of high school rivalry and bullying but through the eyes of a modern, live-streaming teenager.
5. The Social Network (2010) vs. Boiler Room (2000)
These are the movies that every entrepreneur has to see. Both based on real individuals, both films are rich in betrayal, tragedy, and business drama where the main protagonists struggle to find moral ground to set up their businesses. Honing is on the themes of greed and innovation, these films illustrate the journeys of young, genius entrepreneurs with questionable morals and issues with legality, growing into success and fame.
However, as the Boiler Room is a classic that deals with a man working in suits, as a stock broker on Wall Street, (that later inspired Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street) The Social Network embellishes the untold story of Mark Zuckerberg's rise to success with his Facebook company to tell a compelling story about friendship, greed and success.
How do you think these six movies compare to their earlier counterparts? Whatever you think, hopefully you can see that the new millennium has produced some extraordinary films with technological twists and when it comes down to it, they all still keep in line with the universal themes that will forever and always transcend all generations.